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35 Posts authored by: Rieva Lesonsky

Just when you think you have a grip on demographic marketing along comes Generation C.

 

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Actually Gen C is not new—Brian Solis first introduced businesses to the “Connected Customer” in 2012, but many small businesses haven’t yet embraced Gen C, which says Solis, “is not limited to one group or demographic. Demographic marketing is based on age, income, etc.” But Solis’s research on the rise of social media and mobile found that psychographics mattered more. Gen C is more defined by interests, behaviors, and the resources they demand. “It’s not an age group; it’s a lifestyle,” explains Solis, adding “Generation C is anyone relying on tech.”

 

Solis is a principal analyst at Altimeter, the digital analyst group at Prophet. He’s an award-winning author, writer, and keynote speaker.  His latest book Lifescale talks about how our devices distract us. I talked to Solis about Generation C and why small business owners need to reach out to them

 

Rieva Lesonsky: What changes have you seen in Generation C since you first defined it?

 

Brian Solis: Mobile and social media have become even more profound—and consumers are much more connected. But many [businesses] haven’t embraced the concept yet.

 

Rieva Lesonsky: You say businesses aren’t in control of the touchpoints anymore—that consumers are “more empowered and creative and resourceful.” How do you get business es to recognize this?

 

Solis: [Businesses] need to think differently about catering to this group. Open-minded ones understand they’re dealing with a different, more connected type of customer.

 

And there’s a new generation of businesses—the innovators and disrupters coming into play. Companies like Uber, Postmates and DoorDash. They operate with speed and sophistication and have introduced new dynamics built around providing convenience, speed, value and personalization. Those are the pillars of experience for Gen C.

 

These innovators are disrupting all industries. They broke the mold, raised the bar and set new standards. Once customers experience these standards, they don’t want to go back. The new experience becomes the new standard.

 

And that’s the hardest part [for businesses]. Consumers base their next moves on their past experiences. Take Amazon and two-day shipping. Once customers experience it, they’re not going back. Their expectations have changed. Now, they consider two-day shipping the new standard.

 

Lesonsky: What are the common characteristics of Generation C?

 

Solis: Generation C is demanding, impatient and accidentally narcissistic. The world revolves around them and their devices. It’s all about speed. They consider impatience a virtue. [These] are their touchpoints, and we need to meet their expectations.

 

Lesonsky: Yet many businesses haven’t embraced the concept?

 

Solis: Most small businesses still operate from that traditional mindset. They’re trying to be the best chai latte place. That’s not good enough. They need to be the best chia latte place consumers find and love.

 

When Yelp first started there was a natural resistance to it among local business owners—they didn’t want people talking [negatively] about their businesses. They saw Yelp as a threat, not an opportunity to see what people think about their businesses.

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When companies like DoorDash came along many restaurants wanted to pull away. They didn’t see the growth [possibilities]. They thought their job was to put butts in seats. They didn’t realize their job was also to put food in the bellies of people not sitting in their restaurants. They need to reset and ask ‘Do we need a bigger kitchen. Should we open another kitchen to serve these new customers?’

 

Lesonsky: How can a small business reach Generation C?

 

Solis: Mobile has made consumers even more self-centered. They’re searching for the ‘best…for me’. Many go on Facebook and Twitter and ask, ‘what’s the best…’ and let the lazy web solve it for them. Businesses need to cater to customers who have different needs. Small business owners need to find Generation C. Go where they go.

 

The internet has changed how consumers buy. This online decision-making is what Google calls the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). [This is “the moment in the buying process when the consumer researches a product prior to purchase.”]

For Generation C it’s about the ultimate moment of truth, about sharing their experiences. Consumers will make different [buying] decisions based on others’ connecting the dots back to their [ZMOT].

 

Lesonsky: How can small businesses adapt?

 

Solis: It can be a challenge to [change their] mindset. But they need to be part of the discovery process. They have to become a new type of business owner. Become an innovator. And many aren’t ready for that.

 

We live in a time when it’s not good enough to have just a good business; you need to have an exceptional business where people connect and share their experiences, whether good or bad. It’s not about offering great service. You need to offer exceptional service people want to talk about.

 

Experiences are going to be shared whether good or bad. That share is the ultimate moment of truth, which becomes the next person’s zero moment of truth.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Ready to sell your business? Whether you want to retire, start a different venture or just take a break for a while, this is a good time to sell, according to BizBuySell’sInsight Report. Median sales prices are at record-high levels.

 

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There’s a lot of preparation that goes into the selling process, says Luba Kagan, Business Development and Strategic Partners Manager at BizBuySell. One of the first questions potential buyers ask is “Is the business worthy?” You need to show that it is.

 

You’ll need to get your documents in order. In some cases, business owners have prioritized minimizing taxes and not showing profits. While this may have helped you take home more money, it’s not beneficial when you’re trying to sell. Buyers, Kagan says, will likely use standard industry formulas to evaluate the value of your business (such as multiple of earnings or multiple of sales).

 

One way to avoid this problem is planning early. If you know you’re going to sell in 3 to 5 years, Kagan advises “to start reporting your earnings with this in mind.” While you may have to pay more taxes, your business will likely sell for more.

 

Determining Your Sales Price

 

To determine a fair price, Kagan recommends starting by estimating the value of your tangible assets. Make a list of your physical assets (furnishings, fixtures, equipment and inventory) and consider their acquisition cost, age and condition when estimating their value. If these assets are close to the worth of your business, Kagan suggests it might be more cost-effective to liquidate those assets before you sell.

 

The specific financial statements you’ll need are:

 

    • Income statement with gross revenue, expenses and bottom line profits or losses
    • Cash flow statement
    • Balance sheet
    • Statement of seller’s discretionary earnings showing how much your business makes after backing out non-recurring and discretionary expenses

 

Your accountant can help you create a statement of owner’s cash flow or statement of seller’s discretionary earnings. This, says Kagan, is the basis for sale pricing and of primary interest to buyers.

 

Estimate Value Using Earnings Multiples

 

There are numerous factors that affect your multiples, including business type and location. Typically, business values range from 1- to 4-times your annual cash flow. Estimate your earnings multiplier by assessing your business in key areas, such as revenue and profit trends, products, customer base, or position in its industry. To determine an estimated sales price, multiply your seller’s discretionary earnings by your earnings multiplier.

 

Analyze the Comps

 

Compare your estimated sales price with the prices of other businesses for sale in your industry and area.

 

Closing the Sale

 

Kagan says you should create a pre-closing day checklist. Your attorney and accountant will know what specific papers you’ll need, such as the government and tax forms required by your Secretary of State, any transfer contracts and agreements, list of accounts receivables and accounts payable, loan documentation and more.

 

Kagan suggests scheduling your closing in the morning, when it’s easier to reach banks and government offices. “Aim for the last day of the quarter, month or pay period to simplify proportion of monthly expenses that transfer with the sale,” she adds.

 

Remember you and the buyer have different goals. Price is important to you, while terms and conditions are important to them. Kagan says you may be able to get the price you wantifyou provide the terms and conditions the buyer finds valuable, such as a seller financing option, or transition timing, etc.

 

If this sounds arduous, you might opt to work with a business broker. Kagan suggests checking with International Business Brokers Association, your local business brokers organization, or this list of brokers on the BizBuySell site.

 

          Related Links:

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

One of the best ways to get more customers for your small business is by cross-promoting with other small businesses. Big companies cross-promote all the time (such as fast-food operators offering kiddie toys to promote the latest superhero movie), but small businesses can do it, too.

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Why should your small business consider cross-promoting?

 

  • It gives you credibility. Your partner company’s customers will trust you because the partner is recommending you.
  • By sharing the cost of marketing and advertising, you’ll reduce your marketing budget.
  • You can benefit from your partner’s strengths and experience.

 

One of the biggest benefits of cross-promotion has nothing to do with sales. Running a small business can be hard and lonely, and working with another business owner who understands your challenges and can share the load makes everything feel easier.

 

Where to find cross-promotion partners

 

Your cross-promotion partners should target the same customer base and be complementary to your business but not competing. For example, a children’s hair salon and a children’s clothing store are natural partners. So are a website design firm and a marketing copywriting business.

 

Select people you can trust and who share similar business values. Working with business owners you already know or getting references from trusted colleagues can help.

 

You can find partners through your Chamber of Commerce, social networks and local business networking groups. Alignable, a social network specifically for small businesses, can be a great way to connect. The founders started Alignable to give small business owners “an easy way to meet the other business owners on their street.” Today the company has over 3 million members.

 

Your community may also have local business organizations such as this club for women business owners in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. If it doesn’t, consider starting one. The founders of Ladies of Logan Square—small business owners Kelly Marie Thompson and Mary Nisi—started their organization to help highlight the area’s female small business owners.

 

The founders say they had “trouble finding the time to network and collaborate with other business owners on top of all of their work and family obligations.” They told Block Club Chicago, they wanted to “create a community of ‘badass’ women” and give “women who have smaller companies. … an opportunity to get their name out there.”

 

Ideas for cross-promotion

 

Once you’ve found your partner/s, develop a plan together for your cross-promotion efforts. What are your goals? How will you measure success? What’s your budget?

Then brainstorm ideas. Here are 20 ideas to get you started:

 

      1. Do joint print advertising, such as mailers, postcards, or local newspaper or magazine ads.
      2. Host an event that appeals to all your customers.
      3. Display one another’s marketing materials.
      4. Give your customers your partner’s brochures or coupons when they check out of your store or packaged with their online order.
      5. Promote each other on social media to expose your business to a new audience of local customers.
      6. Support a charity together. Get your customers involved in volunteering or donating.
      7. Hold a joint contest.
      8. Link to one another’s websites. You can even create a section on your website and link to local businesses you recommend (making sure they link to yours, too).
      9. Offer a discount when a customer shows a receipt from the other’s business.
      10. Bundle your products and services. A website designer and a marketing copywriter could offer bundled services, for example.
      11. Do joint publicity. Team up to reach out to the media about a relevant topic.
      12. Conduct a survey and share the results to get publicity for your businesses.
      13. Produce co-branded marketing content, such as videos, e-books or white papers.
      14. Team up to write an article for an industry publication.
      15. Create and host a webinar together.
      16. Host a joint podcast.
      17. Write guest posts for your partner’s blog.
      18. Promote your partner in your email newsletter. Include an easy way for recipients to sign up for the partner’s email newsletter.
      19. Mail to your partner’s email newsletter list.
      20. Set up a system to refer relevant customers to your partner.

 

Ideas for cross-promotion are limited only by your imagination. Put your heads together and you’ll soon have double the sales success.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Just when you’ve got a handle on marketing to millennials, it’s time to target a new demographic: Generation Z. Variously defined as born after 1996 or after 2000, by 2020, Generation Z will account for one-third of the U.S. population and almost 40% of U.S. consumers.

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While many millennials have early childhood memories of the analog age, Gen Z is the first generation to grow up in a totally digital world. What must you know to market to them?

 

Living life online: 45% of teens are online “almost constantly” and 44% are online multiple times a day, says Pew Research Institute. The most popular platform is YouTube (85% use it), followed by Instagram (72%) and Snapchat (69%). Tap into Gen Z’s passion for video with how-to, behind-the-scenes, or product videos.

 

Social selves: Gen Z consumers use social media to crowdsource information about products and get opinions from friends. However, they use the various social channels in different ways, according to Response Media: Instagram is for showing off their “aspirational selves,” Snapchat is for sharing “real-life moments,” and Twitter is where they get news.

 

Attention, please: 30%of Gen Z users abandon content after 5 seconds if it doesn’t deliver something of interest or value. This generation is constantly filtering a barrage of information. Get their attention with“snackable” information using visuals (memes, emojis, GIFs and videos) as the main focus and text as supporting information.

 

Under the influence: You don’t need to pay thousands of dollars for a celebrity influencer. Generation Z prefers “nano-influencers” (small-scale influencers with just a few thousand deeply engaged followers). Get new products into influencers’ hands and involve them in your marketing and events. Use tools like Audiense and SocialBook to find nano-influencers, or turn a passionate Gen Z customer into a nano-influencer for your brand.

 

Relationship goals: Engage with Generation Z on their level. Don’t talk down to them or at them. Use social media to ask questions, listen, learn more about them and become part of their world. So Gen Z can see what their peers think about your products, make user-generated content part of your social media presence. Get customers to post photos of themselves wearing or using your products. Ask for input about new products, brands to sell, or promotional ideas.

Honesty is the best policy: While millennials post carefully curated Instagram shots of their perfect avocado toast, Gen Zers are more likely to portray themselves realistically, flaws and all, on social media. They want you to be honest, too. Tell the story of your business and share yourself and your employees as the face of your business to create a personal relationship.

 

All are welcome here: The most ethnically diverse generation ever (according to Pew, nearly half are racial or ethnic minorities), Gen Z is also more fluid and accepting regarding gender and sexuality (35% know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns). Show a wide range of people in your marketing messages, make sure your marketing is inclusive, and make all customers feel welcome in your space.

 

Traditional values: Growing up in the Great Recession, Gen Zers have a conservative attitude toward money that’s reflected in their passion for deals. The number-one reason they sign up for marketing messages is to get discounts and offers (and yes, they actually open their emails.) Provide value so they can feel their hard-earned money is being well spent.

 

Make it simple: Your digital marketing and sales strategy must be mobile first since that’s where Generation Z is most likely to engage. Make sure your marketing messages, offers, and customer experience are consistent across all your digital channels. Gen Z should be able to do anything, from browsing your products to placing an order, on a smartphone with one hand.

 

Read next:

6 Ways to Turn Millennials into Repeat Customers

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

How can a brick-and-mortar retailer convince e-commerce shoppers to get off their couches and into the store?

 

Even if you sell online as well as in-store, there are compelling reasons for cultivating in-store shoppers. Some 71 percent of shoppers spend $50 or more when visiting a brick-and-mortar store; just 54 percent do so when shopping online.

 

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And shoppers in physical stores buy more than the original item they intended to buy 75 percent of the time. In other words, in-store shoppers are highly profitable.

 

Getting e-commerce shoppers in your door is easier than you may think. Even though they make some purchases online, nearly 80 percent of consumers still shop primarily in brick-and-mortar stores. All they need is a little nudge.

 

Here’s how to deliver these customers to your store.

 

Use email and text message marketing. Direct messaging can be very effective at driving customers to a physical store. According to a report by Sailthru, 22 percent of consumers aged 35 to 44 have redeemed an emailed discount in a physical store; almost 40 percent of 18- t024-years-olds have visited a store to buy something promoted via push notification. Use data from customers’ past purchases to craft targeted messages and offers to entice them to your door.

 

Boost your presence online. Optimize your website for local search by ensuring your store’s listings in local search directories are up-to-date and complete. They should include your name, address, hours, phone number, images of your store and a link to your website; the description of your store should include relevant keywords. Since Google has become the primary place consumers look for reviews, encourage your customers to review your store on Google so people see a positive rating when your site pops up on Google.

 

Stay active on social media. A strong social media presence will boost awareness of your physical store. Use paid social media advertising to target shoppers who fit your customer profile and live near your store. You can also work with local social media influencers to publicize your store by inviting them to events or involving them in promotions.

 

Use your website to promote your store. Even if you sell products online, use your website to drive traffic to your brick-and-mortar store. Include photos of your store interior and displays, along with your address and a map, so people realize there’s a physical location to visit. Highlight the benefits of visiting your store, such as being able to test products or attend live events. You could even spotlight your newest products on your website but offer them for sale only in-store for the first week.

 

Hold offline-only promotions. Create different discounts and offers for your online and offline shoppers. For example, you could give shoppers who order online a code for a discount that’s good only in-store. Hold a flash sale in-store only or offer free gifts with purchase only to shoppers at your store.

 

Connect the online and in-store purchasing process. For example, offer the option to order products online and pick them up in store, and allow shoppers to return online purchases at your store. In both situations, shoppers typically do more than just pick up or return a product—they’ll browse and spend some extra money, too.

 

Use Google Shopping Ads. Since 87 percent of shoppers start their search for products online, grabbing their attention online can get them in your door. If a shopper sees you have the shoes they want in the size they want, they’re likely to buy from you rather than wait for online delivery: 73 percent of people who visit a physical store do so to get a product right away.  You can use Google AdWords campaigns to target people searching for products you sell or, even better, set up Google Shopping Ads to display a product photo, price, your store name and more. You’ll need a Google Merchant Center account and a Google AdWords account to get started. Learn more about Google Shopping Ads.

 

Driving e-commerce customers to your brick-and-mortar store strengthens your retail brand and gives you the best of both worlds.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

As a small business owner, you want to make sure your business is as profitable as possible. But higher profit margins don’t just happen. Instead of hoping for good fortune to bring you more profit, make these smart moves to keep more of the money your business makes.

 

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1. Know your profit margins. “What gets measured, gets managed” is a business truism. Knowing what your margins are is essential to improving them and will allow you to accurately calculate how taking actions such as raising prices will affect your margins.

 

2. Look for places to cut costs. Focus on costs that don’t add value for your customers. Start by looking for wasted money, such as memberships to groups you no longer attend or excessive spending on office supplies. Cutting even small unnecessary costs over time can make a big difference.

 

3. Raise prices. It’s the easiest and fastest way to boost profits. You’d be surprised at the difference a price increase of 10 percent, 5 percent or even 3 percent can make to your margins—and most customers won’t even notice.

 

4. Streamline your payment processing and invoicing. Invoicing customers as soon as possible avoids payment delays so you get your money faster and it can work harder for you.

 

5. Negotiate with your vendors. Can you get lower prices from your vendors—perhaps by paying early or paying in cash? Finding a win-win arrangement with vendors can mean more dollars in your pocket.

 

6. Reassess insurance costs. Shop around for health insurance, business insurance and vehicle insurance. See if increasing your deductible or adjusting your coverage will reduce your premiums.

 

7. Consider relocating your business. Can you move to a more affordable location? Could you run your business from home and have your employees work remotely?

 

8. Reduce excess inventory. The cost of carrying inventory that’s past its prime can eat up your profits. Consider selling it to liquidators or posting it on sites like eBay.

 

9. Track the cost of customer acquisition and work to reduce it. Monitor the results of your marketing and advertising activities so you can focus on those that deliver the most bang for your buck.

 

10. Identify high-value customers and focus on them. Use customer relationship management (CRM) or customer loyalty software to pinpoint which customers spend the most with your business. Give them the VIP treatment and see if you can get them to spend even more.

 

11. Get existing customers to buy more and more often. Acquiring new customers is more costly and time-consuming than convincing existing customers to buy from you again. Develop a marketing campaign to turn first-time buyers into loyal customers.

 

12. Narrow your target customer focus. If you try to be everything to everyone, your business will lack an identity. Instead, laser-focus on your ideal target customer and how to deliver value to them. You may have fewer customers, but you’ll sell more to those you have.

 

13. Upsell and cross-sell. Don’t stop with closing the sale. Offer related products or services, warranties, service contracts and other value-adds that increase your profits.

 

14. Set up automatic re-ordering or subscription options for customers. If you can make buying more convenient for consumers, they are more likely to become loyal customers.

 

15. Spend your time where it matters. As a small business owner, your time is valuable. Focus your efforts on profit-generating activities, not on managing minutiae.

 

16. Look for places to automate your business. For example, using marketing automation software to respond to leads or a virtual assistant to schedule meetings can free up time for you and your team have more time to focus on profit-generating work.

 

17. When an employee quits, don’t fill the position right away. See if you can automate the work or distribute it among remaining staff members.

 

Increasing your profitability is a never-ending battle. Stay on top of your business’s cash flowand watch your profit margins closely. Then you’ll be able to spot new opportunities to bring home even more profit.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Is there any element of business ownership changing faster than marketing? Keeping up with marketing trends can feel overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be if you focus on the basics.

 

Here are seven brand and marketing resolutions every small business owner should make – no matter the time of year.

 

Resolution 1: “I will develop a marketing plan.”

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A shotgun approach to marketing—a couple of Facebook ads here, some blog posts there—won’t get you far. With so many options for how to market your business, making the most of your precious marketing budget requires a strategic approach and a well-thought-out marketing plan.

 

 

Download themarketing plan guidefrom SCORE.

 

Resolution 2: “I will maximize my online presence.”

 

Your business website is just one element of your business’s overall online presence. That presence also includes local search directories, social media accounts, ratings and review sites, and online advertising. Make sure your website looks modern, loads fast and is optimized for SEO and mobile use. (You can test your mobile site’s speed here.) Keep your listings on directories up to date. Monitor ratings and reviews to respond quickly to any negative feedback.

 

  • Tip: A strong social media presence on one site is better than a half-hearted presence on all of them.

 

Check out our Small Business Owner’s Guide to Social Media.

 

Resolution 3: “I will listen to my customers.”

 

There’s no excuse for not knowing what your customers are thinking. Use “social listening” tools such as Reputology, Mention, ReviewTrackers or Hootsuite to pay attention to what people are saying online about your business. Review your website analytics and social media analytics to see where your customers are coming from and how they engage with you. Conduct surveys by email or online—tools such as SurveyMonkey make this simple to do.

 

  • Tip: Don’t forget the power of actually talking to your customers face-to-face to see what’s on their minds.

 

Read more from Rieva on why listening to social media can grow your business.

 

Resolution 4: “I will nurture my email list.”

 

Ignore email at your peril: It remains the single most effective marketing method for small businesses, generating higher ROI than any other marketing channel for 10 years running. More than three-fourths (77 percent) of consumers prefer to get promotional messages via email.

 

  • Tip: Use every opportunity to expand your email list—ask customers to sign up at the point of purchase, on your website home page, on social media or in person. Then use email segmentation and automation tools to deliver personalized messages tailored for each customer’s interests.

 

Learn more about cleaning up your e-mail marketing list.

 

Resolution 5: “I will cultivate customer loyalty.”

 

Are you so focused on getting new customers that you’re ignoring the potential of those you already have? Getting existing customers to buy more is easier (and more cost-effective) than convincing prospective customers to give you a try. Use customer data to pinpoint your most valuable customers based on customer lifetime value.

 

  • Tip: Implement loyalty programs to target your most valuable customers with personalized offers and sell more to them.

 

Learn my 7 best email marketing ideas to build customer loyalty.

 

Resolution 6: “I will explore online video.”

 

Shoppers are “64 percent more likely to buy a product online after watching a video ad and 80 percent more likely to purchase when a landing page includes a video,” according to AdRoll president Scott Gifis. Explainer videos, how-to videos, product demonstrations and testimonials are the four most popular types of videos used by businesses—one or more of these should work for yours.

 

  • Tip: Ask your employees to help. One or more may be handy with video and have some great ideas to creatively showcase your offerings.

 

How to use Compelling Video On Social Media for your Small Business

 

Resolution 7: “I will protect my customers’ personal data.”

 

A data breach costs you more than money—it can also cost you customers. More than one-fifth of consumers in Bank of America Merchant Services; 2018 Small Business Payments Spotlight say they would never again shop at a small business that experienced a breach. When usingcustomers’ personal information for marketing, protect it using cybersecurity best practices such as firewalls, complex passwords and compliance with industry standards.

 

  • Tip: Reassure your customers their personal information is safe when they shop with you. They will appreciate your approach to data security.

 

Visit our Fraud and Privacy Resource Center.

 

Making and keeping these resolutions will help you grow in 2019 but be sure to check back here in the Small Business Community for new marketing trends. Nothing in business is changing as quickly as marketing these days.

 

Did I miss any resolutions? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

The demise of retail has been greatly exaggerated, as the 2018 holiday shopping season proves: 2018 holiday sales soar to 6-year high.

 

Overall, in 2018 physical retail stores enjoyed a net gain of over 10,000 locationscompared to 2017. Over half (51 percent) of small business owners now have e-commerce sites, up 7 percentage points from 2017, according to Bank of America’s 2018 Small Business Payments Spotlight.

 

Whether you sell online, in a store, or both, here are six hot retail trends you should know about for 2019.

 

1. Experiential retail

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Why do consumers still go to brick-and-mortar stores when there are so many convenient online options? According to Oracle, shoppers in all demographics cite the same

top two reasons:

 

1) they don’t want to wait for products to be shipped.

 

2) they want to see, touch and try products before they make a purchase. Retail stores have the

potential to offer an experience that makes browsing and shopping fun.

 

Think of ways to make your store a sensory experience with sight, sound, smell and touch. Hold events like fashion shows or pop-up shops.   

 

2. Buy online, pick up in store

 

During the 2018 holiday season, more than 89 million Americans shopped both online and in-store—an increase of almost 40 percent from the previous year, according to the National Retail Federation. “Buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS) orders on Thanksgiving and Black Friday were up 73 percent compared to last year.  Shoppers choose BOPIS to get their products faster and/or to save on shipping costs—but the good news for retailers is that 64percent of people who use BOPIS make an additional purchase once they’re in the store.

 

3. Storefront as a service

 

New retail options are springing up to help e-commerce companies stake their claim in the brick-and-mortar world. Storesreports a project called Re: Storeis expected to launch in San Francisco this spring, offering combined work/retail space for e-commerce companies. Popular co-working space provider WeWork launched its first WeMrkt shop in mid-2018 to sell products to people who work in WeWork’s spaces.

 

4. Artificial Intelligence (AI) /Chatbots

 

According to a survey from BRP Consulting, just 7 percent of retailers currently use AI capabilities such as digital assistance and chatbots. However, 40 percent plan to implement this technology within the next three years. Chatbots can help retail customers overcome obstacles that might delay or prevent purchases, such as problems with product availability or glitches during the checkout process. Consumers are rapidly accepting chatbots for shopping assistance: 20 percent say they would use chatbots to compare products, 18 percent would like bots to help them discover new products, and 10 percent want bots to help them complete their transaction, according to SUMO Heavy.

 

Read Mari Smith’s article, “Facebook Messenger Chatbots Give Small Business Owners an Edge”

 

5.  Augmented reality

 

Big retailers like IKEA and Gap are using AI technology to create augmented reality (AR) apps shoppers can use to “virtually” try on clothing or see how furniture will look in their homes. (Learn more here: how 10 retailers are using augmented reality.) By 2025, some experts predict augmented realitywill drive $1.6 billion in retail sales annually. Will 2019 be the year augmented reality trickles down to small retailers? With DIY tools like Blippbuilderand Appy Pieto help you create an AR app, the answer is likely “Yes.”

 

6. Transparency/Social responsibility

 

In 2019 consumers will pay attention to retailers’ environmental and socially-responsible activities when deciding where to shop. According to a recent GlobalData survey, 71 percent of consumers consider the environmental impact of products they buy at grocery stores, and 64 percent do the same when shopping for clothing and footwear. How does your retail business demonstrate its commitment to making the world a better place? From environmental sustainability practices to how you treat suppliers, contractors and employees, being transparent about your retail business’s mission, vision and policies will help you attract and keep customers.

 

All told, 2019 looks to be an exciting time for retailers.

 

What trends are you planning to incorporate into your business this year?

Tell us in the comments below.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Black Friday is always crazy—both for consumers and retailers—and this year promises to be even wilder than usual. According to a survey by Natural Insight, 20% of consumers plan to do most of their holiday shopping on Black Friday, up from 15% last year. Whether you own a brick-and-mortar store, an e-commerce site or both, advance preparation is vital. Follow these “12 steps to Black Friday success” to ensure you’re ready. 

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1. Review last year’s data. What kinds of products were hot sellers? What times of day were busiest? What marketing and advertising campaigns worked best? How well did you manage inventory?

 

2. Research. What’s trending in your industry? What “must-have” products are your customers clamoring for? Combining your research and sales projections with last year’s figures will enable you to make educated estimates this year.

 

3. Determine what products to promote. Focusing on those that are hard to find or unique to your store will help you attract more customers.

 

4. Staff up. Make sure you’re adequately staffed during the times of day you expect the most customers. If you’re hiring seasonal workers, get moving: The National Retail Federation projects retailers will hire between 585,000 and 650,000 temporary workers this year, and competition is stiff.

 

 

5. Prepare your people. You’ll need time to train those temps—and your regular salespeople—to provide stellar service. Your staff’s product knowledge, helpfulness and demeanor can make or break the sale at holiday time.

 

6. Test your tech.

    1. If you sell online, run a speed test to make sure your site loads quickly and a stress test to ensure it can handle at least double your normal traffic.
    2. Secure your website against cyberattacks and build customer trust by using trust seals from your SSL certificate provider to indicate site security.
    3. Test your website navigation and checkout processes for ease of use on both desktop and mobile devices: Holiday shopping will be more mobile-driven this year, eMarketer Retail predicts.
    4. Make sure your in-store point-of-sale system is running smoothly and accepts multiple forms of payment. Younger consumers are embracing mobile payment solutions. 

 

7. Embrace holiday décor. Enjoying holiday decorations is one of the top reasons consumers shop in-store instead of online, according to Natural Insight. Create a festive atmosphere with holiday décor, music and scents. Get creative with color: Bold, icy shades of pink, purple and green will be cool alternatives to plain old red, white and green this year, says Frontier Label.

 

8. Check your local directory listings. If you own a brick-and-mortar store, make sure the information in your local search listings (such as Google My Business and Yelp) is current and complete; if you have special holiday hours, add them.

 

 

9. Review your reviews. Do you have enough recent online reviews to convince new customers to shop at your store? If not, start a campaign to encourage reviews from satisfied customers.

 

 

10. Plan your inventory. Inventory management software can help you find the perfect balance between too much inventory (that goes unsold) and too little inventory (that disappoints customers).

 

11. Create your marketing calendar. Build excitement around Black Friday by starting your holiday marketing campaign early. (More than one-fourth of consumers start shopping before Thanksgiving, so it’s not too early to start promoting.) Plan your email marketing messages and cadence, creating different promotions for loyal customers and for new ones. Push to get more email signups before Black Friday.

 

12. Think social. Social media will have a huge influence on holiday sales this year, according to eMarketer, and it’s where SMBs will concentrate most of their ad spending this year, says Reveal Mobile. Plan now for special holiday-themed social media content, contests and promotions. Look for photogenic, fun and unique ideas to encourage social media sharing. You can even start selling products straight from Facebook with the Storefront Social app.

 

By following these steps, you’ll be well-prepared to succeed not just on Black Friday, but during the rest of the holiday shopping season, too.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Are you among the 91 percent of marketers ignoring a massive consumer demographic with trillions of dollars to spend? Unless you’re marketing to baby boomer women, the answer is yes.

 

Baby boomer women (currently aged between 54 and 72), account for more than half of the 78 million baby boomers. The net worth of women aged 50+ is $19 trillion. They’re also poised to inherit even more money from their parents: Boomer women are projected to control two-thirds of all consumer wealth over the next decade.

 

Here’s what boomer women are doing, what they want and how to reach them.

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Embracing technology

 

Tech adoption rates among boomers have soared in recent years. Nearly seven in 10 boomers own smartphones, 52 percent own tablets, and 57 percent use social media. A whopping 94 percent of boomer women shop online.

 

Life transitions

 

Some boomer women are still in the “sandwich generation,” caring for both children and aging parents. Convenience is paramount for this demographic, especially if they work outside the home, and they’ll spend more for products and services that save them precious time.

Other boomer women, with adult children finally out of the nest, have more time and financial resources to devote to themselves. Still others are single for the first time in decades: The divorce rate among adults age 50+has doubled since 1995.

 

Hot products and services for boomer women

 

  • Travel: Regardless of where they go, whom they’re going with, or who’s paying, women make 80 percent of all travel decisions. They’re also more likely to travel solo than men. Consider offering women-only tours where solo female travelers can make new friends; “girlfriend” travel packages for women traveling with friends or daughters; or couples’ packages for empty-nesters revitalizing their relationships.

 

  • Fashion: Nearly seven in 10 boomer women believe the fashion industry ignores them; 82 percent say apparel for women their age is too old-fashioned. Take a cue from the profitability of plus-sized clothing: If you can take the physical changes of age into account and sell clothing that’s good-quality, flattering and current, you’ve got a ready market.

 

  • Health and fitness: Boomer women want to stay active and fit, but they’re not up for hard-core boot camps. Instead, try personal training and low-impact fitness regimens like Pilates, barre and yoga.

 

  • Financial planning: Boomer women need expert guidance for managing they money they control; divorcees need help navigating a new financial reality. Financial planners that cater to women instead of assuming men control the finances will find success.

 

                    Read more: Women and Financial Wellness: Beyond the Bottom Line

 

  • Adult education: Whether finally indulging a passion for watercolor painting, learning Italian or prepping for a late-life career change, boomer women are eager to learn new skills and rediscover old hobbies.

 

Marketing do’s and don’ts

 

Try these tips to market to boomer women.

 

  • Keep it real. Most ads portray boomers either as frail seniors who can’t work a cell phone, or uber-fit triathletes. Avoid these extremes and use realistic images of boomer women in your advertising.
  • When choosing images, keep in mind boomers tend to see themselves as 10 years younger than they are—but not 20 or 30 years younger. Avoid teenagers and 20-somethings as models.
  • Use imagery of boomer women
  • Target peers. Boomer women get their beauty information from friends and family, consumer reviews, and lifestyle and beauty blogs. Use social media and online review sites to spread word-of-mouth about your business.
  • Understand how women buy. According to Marti Barletta, an expert in marketing to women, women tend to have a longer sales cycle and ask more questions about products and services. Provide plenty of details and be patient. Check out more articles about marketing.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

What’s the most effective kind of marketing email you can send? According to Optimove research on more than 1 million email campaigns, birthday emails get the highest response rate compared to other customer communications.

 

“Whether the consumers received coupons, free delivery, a gift or any other incentive as a part of their birthday campaign, they all turned out to be highly effective,” Optimove reports.

 

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One reason birthday emails may be so effective is because customers who receive them have already purchased from the business. According to a report by Belly, 58 percent of people willopen emails from companies they’ve purchased from previously. Since the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70 percent, the added incentive of a birthday offer can easily tip the scales.

 

Of course, birthdays only come once a year — and you’d like your customers to buy from you more often. What other email tactics can you use to turn new customers into repeat customers, and keep your loyal customers coming back? Here are 7 email marketing ideas to build customer loyalty.

 

1. Make them feel welcome. When a customer signs up for emails, send a welcome email thanking them for signing up and helping them get the most from your business. For example, if you have an e-commerce business, your welcome email could tell customers to check out the “flash sale” section of your site where new products go on sale every Friday at noon.

 

     Related Content: The Importance of Timing Your Promotions

 

2. Go beyond birthdays. How about sending emails on your customers’ anniversaries (either their own wedding anniversaries or the day they began doing business with you)? Or build loyalty with offers on relevant holidays. For example, a Pilates studio could send customers emails in April encouraging them to get in shape for summer with a special “unlimited visits” offer in May.

 

3. Send relevant emails. Some 86 percent of consumers say email personalization plays a role in their purchasing decisions. Segment email subscribers based on factors such as previous purchases, pages they visited on your website, how frequently or recently they buy from you. The more targeted your emails, the more effective they’ll be. (After all, you want customers to stay “loyal” to your email list, too.)

 

4. Integrate email with direct mail. Using both channels can result in a 35 percent lift in sales compared to using just one or the other. Try using direct mail to emphasize a marketing message, surprise the customer, or deliver a special offer (like that birthday greeting). Make sure your direct mail piece reflects the same branding, look and feel as your email messages.

 

5. Ask their opinions. Don’t overload customers with a survey every time they make a purchase. Do periodically email targeted surveys to your best customers. Because they have a vested interest in your business, they’re more likely to respond. Let them know they’re receiving this survey because you value their opinion as loyal customers. You can also offer a reward for completing the survey, such as loyalty points or a discount on their next purchase.

 

     Related Content: 9 Ways to Discover What Your Customers Really Think of Your Business

 

6. Treat them like VIPs. Does it bother you when a company you patronize regularly offers special deals … but only for first-time customers? Don’t neglect your loyal customers when it comes to special treatment. Offering early access to a sale or to new products or services will inspire many recipients to open and act on your email.

 

     Related Content: The Small Business Guide to Customer Loyalty Programs

 

7. Keep them engaged in your loyalty program. If you have a customer loyalty program, use email to communicate with members about their status in the program, any special offers or events for members, or upcoming expiration dates for their points or rewards. Feature products you know they’ll be interested in or rewards that they have enough points to redeem.

 

Crafting emails for your loyal customers as carefully as you do for your new ones, helps you maintain their loyal fan status.

 

      Related Content: The Surprising Impact of Email Marketing and how to Maximize its Effect

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Who are “Affluencers” and why should small business owners care? The most recent Ipsos Affluent Survey has identified a subgroup of affluent consumers who have outsized influence on others’ purchasing decisions.

 

Dubbed Affluencers (a combination of affluent and influencer), these consumers have huge potential to positively affect how others perceive your brand.

 

Let’s learn who the Affluencers are, what purchases they influence, and how a small business can influence them.

 

Who are the Affluencers?

  • Ipsos defines “affluent” consumers as adults with $125,000+ in annual household income (the top 16 percent of American households).

  • The median age of affluents is 46 and their median household income is $178,200.

  • A whopping 71 percent of affluent consumers are Affluencers.

  • Younger people are more likely to be affluencers: 81 percent of millennial affluents, 70 percent of Generation X affluents, 64 percent of baby boomer affluents and 57 percent of senior affluents are Affluencers.

  • The face of affluent consumers is increasingly diverse. More than one-fourth of affluents are nonwhite; 17 percent speak another language at home; and 6 percent identify as LGBT.

 

What do Affluencers influence?

Affluent consumers have long driven trends in luxury and high-end products, but the influence of Affluencers goes beyond luxury to be felt in nearly every category. They spend more than non-affluent consumers and affluent consumers impact the following areas:

  • Alcoholic beverages

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  • Art and collectibles
  • Vehicles
  • Boating
  • Children's apparel/accessories
  • Computers, electronics and home entertainment
  • Home decorating/remodeling
  • Leisure/entertainment/dining out
  • Men's apparel and accessories
  • Insurance
  • Personal care and wellness
  • Skincare, cosmetics and fragrance
  • Sports/athletic equipment
  • Travel
  • Watches and jewelry
  • Women's apparel and accessories

 

Why are Affluencers so influential?

Affluencers wield influence because:

  • They make a disproportionate amount of purchases.
  • They’re trendsetters. Affluencers are early adopters of everything, from technology and fitness trends to restaurants and obscure travel destinations.
  • They’re a source of advice for friends and family considering purchases. Nearly all Affluencers (97) say people “often” ask them for purchasing advice, and half influence others’ shopping and purchasing behavior in five or more categories.

 

How can you influence the Affluencers?

Affluencers are a powerful target market for businesses to leverage, Ipsos notes. Seven in 10 U.S. marketers say influencer marketing budgets will increase in 2018, and 89 percent of survey respondents believe influencer marketing can positively impact how people feel about a brand.

 

Influencer marketing pays off. On average, businesses generate $6.50 in revenue for each $1 spent on influencer marketing, Business2Community reports.

So how can you reach Affluencers? Think media. The average Affluencer consumes far more media than non-affluents or affluents—their readership of both print and digital publications increased over 9 percent from the prior survey.

 

What’s surprising is the strong reach of traditional media for the Affluencers. TV is their No. 1 media source, followed by the web, mobile apps, printed magazines/newspapers, social media, traditional radio, digital magazines/newspapers, and podcasts. For comparison, 97 percent watch TV, 77percent listen to radio, 72 percent use social media, 48 percent read digital editions and 15 percent listen to podcasts.

 

In addition, 26 percent of Affluencers “like” brands/products on social media, primarily because:

  • It’s something they want to buy soon or already use
  • It’s something they want updates/information about

 

Tips to influence the Affluencers:

  • Reach out to Affluencers via the media they prefer. This will differ based on what you’re selling and your target Affluencer niche (technology vs. travel, boomers vs. millennials).
  • Share useful information that helps them assess a possible purchase. Affluencers do a lot of research before buying.
  • Appeal to their desires to be “the first” to have the coolest, newest thing.
  • Once they’ve purchased from you, maintain an ongoing relationship and collect as much data as you can.
  • Harness their power as referral sources to get new customers.
  • Enlist them to help promote your brand with online reviews or social media mentions.

 

Want to dig deeper into data on the Affluencers? Check out the full presentation.

 

Related Content: The Dos and Don’ts of Connecting with Influencers Online

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Summer is the season for family vacations, backyard barbecues and days at the beach. For a small business, it can also be a profitable season. With summer underway, how is your business doing at capturing customers’ summer dollars? Here are some creative midsummer marketing ideas to boost your business’s sales.

 

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  • On a scorching hot day, attract passersby into your business by promoting your air conditioning. Put up a sign saying, “Come in and cool off!”
  • Give away ice-cold lemonade or bottled water outside your business, along with a coupon for 10

 

Get Outdoors

  • Have a company picnic for your customers at a local park, lake or beach.
  • Put up a tent in the parking lot; grill hot dogs and hamburgers and scoop ice cream for customers.
  • Have employees wear sandwich boards, twirl signs or hand out coupons on busy street corners.

 

Hit the Road

  • Choose a tradeshow or conference relevant to your business. Make it a mini-vacation by building in a bit of sightseeing before or after the event.
  • Take a road trip to visit key clients. Many B2B companies’ schedules slow down in the summer, so your customers will be less frazzled and your meetings more productive.

 

Team Up

  • Get together with your Chamber of Commerce or other local business owners to plan a sidewalk sale you can all participate in. Put tables outside the stores selling small items, and keep your door open to attract customers inside.
  • Put together a monthly “First Fridays” or “Second Saturdays” event featuring musicians, face painting, and refreshments in your business district to attract customers one evening a month.

 

Join the Crowd

  • Find a local community event your target customers attend, like a fun run, classic car show or music festival. Sell products at a booth there or give away free samples, along with a coupon to get recipients into your business later.
  • If you don’t have the bandwidth to have a physical presence at the event, become a sponsor to get your businesses’ name in front of the crowds.
  • Farmers markets are especially popular in the summertime, and can be a great place to sell products or promote your services to locals.

 

Be a Good Sport

  • Take your best customers out to a baseball game, surf competition, volleyball tournament or whatever summer sport is hot in your area.
  • Put on a golf or tennis tournament for clients at the local links or country club.

 

Get Social

  • Get customers to engage with your business on social media. Have employees share their vacation photos and ask customers to do the same.
  • Give away company T-shirts or baseball caps with your logo and offer a prize for the customer who posts a picture of them wearing it in the most exotic vacation locale.
  • Hold a contest or drawing to give away summer-related products or services, like beach toys from your toy store or a summer spruce up at your hair salon.

 

Share Summer Content

  • Summer-ize your content marketing with seasonal information relevant to your customers. That could be serious stuff like pool safety tips for children, or fun stuff like 10 top nail polish colors for summer pedicures.

 

Heat Up Your Promo Products

  • Invest in fun summer promotional products, like beach towels, sunglasses, Koozies®, coolers or beach balls.
  • At an outdoor event, give away promo products to cool customers down, like fans, visors or spray bottles with your logo.

 

Help Customers Enjoy the Summer

  • If you own a service business, put together packages that help your customers get the most out of summer. An auto repair shop could offer a “pre-road trip inspection” special to get cars vacation-ready. A yoga studio could hold special “Mommy and me” classes.

 

Summer is short. Don’t waste your chance to make the most of this special season.

 

Related Content:

8 Stops to Prepare Your Business for Summer Tourists

5 Simple Steps for Giving Your Team Time Off This Summer

Top Hacks to Make your Store Profit from Summer Tourists

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Since the first photo with the hashtag #selfie posted to Instagram in 2011, selfies have taken over the world.

 

According to one survey, 30 percent of photos taken by people between ages 18 and 24 are selfies. Why not celebrate—and market your business at the same time—by launching a grassroots social media selfie campaign for National Selfie Day on June 21?

 

For a small business owner, sharing selfies can be a way of promoting your business’s authenticity. Showing customers and prospective customers the faces behind the business demonstrates you’re not a faceless corporation—you’re a real person.

 

Social Selfie Suggestions

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A social media selfie campaign works best if you have a lot of customers on Facebook or Instagram, the two social platforms where selfies are popular. You can either focus on the platform where your target customers spend the most time, or create one campaign for each platform.

 

Have a specific goal in mind for your National Selfie Day campaign. Do you want to build awareness of a new product or service? Do you want to get people to visit your location? Do you want to promote a sale and spark purchases? Set a measurable goal and figure out how National Selfie Day can help you reach it.

 

    Related Content: The Social Media Time Suck: How to Pick Your Platforms

 

You don’t need a physical location to market National Selfie Day, but if you do have one, make it “selfie-worthy.” Paint a wall inside your store, restaurant, salon, etc. with a backdrop that inspires customers to take selfies. Set up a selfie station: If you own a toy store, paint a wall with a circus theme and put out props like clown noses, crazy wigs or top hats for kids to pose in. Want to really go crazy? Make your entire location selfie-worthy (look up images of the Museum of Ice Cream for inspiration).

 

To promote your social campaign, create your own hashtag and make sure customers use it (along with #NationalSelfieDay) when submitting selfies. This way, their selfies show up not only on their Facebook or Instagram pages, but also on yours.

 

Here are some ideas:

  • Ask customers to post a selfie holding/wearing/using something they bought from your business.
  • National Selfie Day falls on the first day of summer, so ask for selfies doing something summery, like grilling, sunning or camping.
  • Do you own a hair salon or other beauty business? Ask customers to post a selfie showing why they need a new haircut or a makeover.
  • Own a bar or restaurant? Ask customers to post selfies digging into their favorite menu item or toasting with their favorite beverage.

 

Related Content: The Small Business Owner's Guide to Social Media

 

What's My Motivation?

 

Some customers will post selfies just for the fun of it, but others need incentive. Here are some rewards to offer:

  • Something free: If hair salon clients post selfies of their new ‘do, give them a free sample-size hair-care product. If diners post selfies eating at your restaurant, provide a free appetizer.
  • Contest prize: Contests can exponentially increase your selfie campaign’s reach. Ask your social media followers to vote for the winner, and watch the entrants spread the word to their friends in an attempt to win. Make the contest prize something that gets the winner back to your business, like a $100 store gift card, a day of pampering at your spa, or a catered event from your restaurant.
  • Giving to a cause: Tie your social selfie campaign into a charitable cause that your business supports. Own a pet grooming business? Ask for selfies of people with their pups and donate $1 per selfie to an organization that helps abused animals.

 

     Related Content: A First Step for Small Businesses Wanting to Support a Social Cause

 

For more ideas for using selfies in your marketing, search for posts with the hashtags #selfie or #NationalSelfieDay, or search for “selfie booth” or “selfie station” online. With a bit of creativity, you can make your National Selfie Day social media campaign a success—and get to know your customers a little better in the bargain.

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Has your business’s social media presence become ho-hum?  Are you fresh out of ideas for creative photos or inspiring images? Then try going live with a digital event.

 

There are a wide variety of online events you can take part in, from Tweet Chats (or Twitter Chats) to Facebook Live or Instagram Live streaming videos. In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of digital events for a small business, give you an overview of digital event options, and share some ideas for digital events you can host.

 

What are Digital Events?

 

A digital event is any online broadcast usually on social media—that takes place live. Among the most popular formats are Facebook Live videos, Twitter live videos and Instagram live videos.  You can also participate in or host Tweet Chats or Reddit forums, which are real-time online chats on a specific topic.

Live digital events are becoming more and more popular. According to TechCrunch, one-fifth of videos shared on Facebook are now live.

 

Why Should a Business Participate in Digital Events?66061204_s.jpg

 

Live digital events have many benefits for a small business. Like all kinds of social media marketing, they help promote products or services, build awareness of your business and gain a reputation for thought leadership. However, a live digital event has unique advantages:

 

  • It can generate a sense of excitement and anticipation
  • It helps to foster a community with your customers and followers
  • It enables real-time interaction with customers
  • It offers a sense of authenticity because it’s live
  • You get instant responses and feedback from viewers

 

Ideas for Digital Events

 

A Tweet Chat or Reddit forum is essentially a Q&A session. For example, you could invite an industry expert to answer questions, or answer questions yourself about your business, product or service. You’ll need a moderator for the event to field questions and manage the flow of interactions (if you’re the one answering the questions, you won’t be able to pay attention to incoming questions at the same time).

 

Here are some ideas for live videos:

 

  • Go behind the scenes at your business. Give viewers a tour of your brewery or introduce them to your team.
  • Hold a demonstration showing viewers how to use one of your products.
  • Interview an industry expert on a topic of interest to your customers.
  • Live stream an event at your business, like a grand opening for a new location or a fundraiser for a local charity.
  • Live stream an event, conference or tradeshow you’re attending. If you’re speaking at an event or moderating a panel, live stream it.
  • Promote a sale at your business. Take viewers through your store showing off the hottest selling items or biggest promotional discounts.

 

Tips for Digital Event Success

 

  • Promote your event in advance. Use email marketing, social media and your business website to spread the word and create anticipation.
  • Create a hashtag for your event so people can find it. If you’re hosting a Tweet Chat, you’ll need a unique hashtag to tweet or respond to tweets in the chat.
  • Plan ahead. Your event is live, but don’t try to wing it. Facebook recommends Facebook Live videos be a minimum of 10 minutes long—a long time to talk if you don’t have some idea what you’re going to say. Plan a few topics to bring up or questions to get the ball rolling.
  • Create a series. For example, hold a Tweet Chat with an industry expert once a month, or live stream a demo of the best-selling products from your store every week. (If you plan to do a series, remind viewers at the end of your video to “follow” you for notifications of future live videos.)
  • Engage with viewers. Digital events let you can see exactly how customers are responding in real time. Learn from their questions and comments, and ask some questions of your own.

 

Once your digital event is over, assess its success, (measure participation, use of hashtags, etc.) and use what you learned to make your next digital event even more effective.

 

Related Content:

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

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